One of the most memorable experiences of our trip to Japan earlier this year was visiting Hiroshima. It happens to be the city from which my mom's family emigrated over 100 years ago, but it obviously has great international historical significance. Peace Plaza was incredibly powerful, and the bleakness of the events that occurred here 65 years ago seemed accentuated by the cold, rainy weather. Whether it was the emotion or the walking, we worked up quite an appetite and soon went in search of Hiroshima's famous okonomiyaki.
We found it in a place called Okonomimura -- literally, "okonomi town." A 4-story building, each floor houses several stalls specializing in a different type of Japanese "pizza" (for lack of a better comparison). The difference between Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki and, say, the varieties found in Osaka, is the fact that each ingredient is layered on top of the next. Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki also frequently uses noodles -- typically yakisoba or udon -- as one layer in the pie. The stall we eventually chose offered toppings, from Hiroshima's famous oysters to kimchi, but you can also just eat it on its own, which I find equally delicious.
- 7 oz. yakisoba noodles
- 1/2 c. okonomi pancake mix (or use flour with a little salt)
- 1/2 c. water
- 1/4 head of cabbage, sliced thinly
- 4 strips uncured pork belly slices
- 2 eggs
- Bonito flakes
- Okonomi sauce
- Kewpie mayonnaise
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- Cook noodles in boiling water according to package directions. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking, and drain well.
- In a small bowl, whisk together pancake mix and water.
- Heat a double-burner griddle (or two medium-sized skillets) over medium heat. Spray one end with cooking oil spray, and ladle batter in a circle approximately 6" in diameter. Immediately top with half of the sliced cabbage so that it sticks to the uncooked batter. Place two slices of pork belly on top of the cabbage (fold edges inward if they extend past the edge of the cabbage pancake). Cook for another minute until the pancake begins to turn golden-brown, and then with a large spatula, flip over so the pork belly is on the bottom. Press down with spatula to help the layers adhere.
- Spray the other end of the griddle (or second skillet) with cooking oil. Using half of the noodles, form a circle about the same size as the pancake. When pork belly begins to brown and is fully cooked, scoop up the entire pancake and set it on top of the noodles. Let cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- On the now vacant end of the griddle, spray again with cooking spray. Crack an egg onto the oiled griddle, break the yolk, and form into a circle (again, roughly the same size as the pancake). When the egg is 75% cooked, pick up the pancake/cabbage/pork/noodle tower with the spatula, and set on top of the egg. Allow to cook for one more minute, then flip the entire thing over so that the pancake is again on the bottom. Cook for 30 more seconds, and remove to a plate.
- Top with bonito flakes, and drizzle with okonomi sauce and mayonnaise in a fun pattern. Sprinkle with green onions.
- Repeat with the remaining ingredients.